Category Archives: relationships

I write to you now as the dog of the family, Signor Albussio.

 You may call me, Albus. It has become apparent to me that writing this is taking too long. I will take it upon myself to finish it for ‘My Lady on Wheels,’ who you know as Rita. While we wait for the next visitor, whom I will greet enthusiastically at the door and who will arrive mostly to pet me and adore me, I will add a few thoughts…

My responsibility as supervisor of the goings-on at my home for my  human bipedal family remain constant and true. Why yesterday, a female human with strong, sure hands arrived at the house. She helped ‘My Lady on Wheels’ to move her legs and arms, back and forth. I sat close by, licking ‘My Lady’s’ left knee, as is my duty. The therapist was unkind. She enticed me off to ‘my chair’ (also known as a box of files), gave me a treat and then moved the tub that gives me access to ‘My Lady’s’ side. I had to stand on my back paws, press my forepaws to the giant cushion to gaze at My Lady and continue the supervision. I grumbled and was displeased.

I notice since the therapist arrived and booted me from my place, My Lady moves more easily. She has regained her perch on wheels. My Lady has been tired of late. Previously this last week, she sat upon a much smaller, more awkward perch with two large wheels and two very small wheels. She used her arms to move the large wheels to get around the house. She was tired, I could tell and had not any time to play. The odour of this wheeled perch was offensive to my nostrils. I did not recognize this acrid and musty smell, but I heard the word ‘cigarette’ and the word ‘smoke’.

My lady rises early today, feeling refreshed from yesterday, no doubt. The movement and chatter coming from the two females during the therapist’s visit seems to revive ‘My Lady on Wheels’. I continue to rest in the sun, at least until a noise alerts me to the front door or my lady calls for my help. If the great wailing begins on the street, I will do my duty to alert my humans of this wailing melancholy. 

with the greatest affection and the finest respect,

Albus

Allow me to introduce you to my grandmother.

I think of her often these days. I recently saw a picture of myself that immediately brought her to mind. I am sitting in a wheelchair with my knees resting against each other. I am smiling and enjoying the company around me on a very social evening. What made me think of my grandmother? Even when she was in her 90s and used a wheelchair to get around, she was always ready to enjoy herself. With her pretty, high cheekbones and mischievous eyes, she was patient and clever. She taught me a lot. How to cook a good spaghetti sauce. How to be grateful for the small things in life. How to appreciate poetry.

I knew her for a long time, from the time I was born until she passed away when I was in my 30s. At different stages in my life, I got to know different sides of her. A charming, mischievous and open-minded artist, she worked very hard. She was unassuming, but expected nothing less than excellence. She loved and forgave. As I watched her age and grow more frail, while I grew stronger, I learned that the physical reality of her presence did not reflect the essence of who she was.

I remember when we were living in Ontario in the 1970s, she and my grandfather were taking English as a second language classes. She showed me an essay she had written for the class. She explained she had to choose a topic from a few the teacher had given. She chose to answer the following: “Is it better to have loved and lost, than never have loved at all?” I was young and remember reading the paragraph, but not quite understanding it. She explained to me that it was better to have loved and lost. I remember looking at her wide-eyed, thinking to myself: “Si Nonna, if you write it, then it must be true.” I think back now of all the stories she told me and realize I had absorbed this: there will be pain, frustration and discomfort in life; joy is mine to find.

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Look who just turned One Year Old

“I was set up,” I explained to a friend and laughed. “Everything was perfect. I would have agreed to anything.” With a broad smile, I told my friend how on a perfect day at the end of the summer, my daughter and I went to the park. When I stopped the van in front of the water, I turned to my daughter and asked “Can you pull out the wheelchair?” I explained, “We can take the path we’ve not taken before.” She shrugged an “okay” and pulled out the wheelchair from the back of the van. When I showed her the new path I had found, a path that was paved and totally accessible, I sat in the wheelchair and she pushed me down to the water. My friend smiled, as I described how I sat facing the water, enjoying the sound of the waves hitting the rocks and the warmth of the sun on my face. My daughter and I talked about school starting, summer ending and nothing in between. And then she asked, “Would you ever want to get a dog?” I was relaxed and pleased to be somewhere outside with my daughter and replied, “Oh, I love dogs!” I smiled and closed my eyes into the sun, “I would love to have one.”

Then I remembered ‘How To Be A Parent’ and told her, “If we had a dog, you along with your brother and sister would have to take care of it.” Every parent says that, but because I have MS, she knows I mean it.  She shares the cooking, setting the table, serving of supper, and cleaning up after supper with her siblings. (They do not plan meals, nor do they budget. I do that. And, I hire help to get the week’s shopping done and to cook up two to three meals a week.) I warned her, “dogs are expensive and a lot of work. It’ll be like having a little baby. I want you to make a list of all the expenses and the work involved.”  And then, I gave her a glimmer of hope, “and we’ll see if we can do it.”

The odds were against me: the sun, the summer breeze, and my daughter’s company. I was relaxed and gave her an open and sincere response. When we got home, she immediately told her sister, “Mom said we could have a dog.” At which point I thought ‘damn’,  but responded with: “No, I said to make a list of all the expenses and seriously look at what’s involved and I’d think about it.” Every child knows when they hear the phrase: “I’d think about it…” chances are, things will work out in their favour.

I was doomed, when I did think about it. I realized I would enjoy the company of a little dog. The teenagers I live with come and go. I would enjoy the company. Training a dog could be a new hobby. I sat by myself and I thought about it and told myself: “No! you can’t, you have MS.”  My heart sank to the floor and I felt irrepressibly sad. I can’t always say: “No!” Sometimes, I have to say, “Yes!  It will be hard and it doesn’t make any sense, but I’ll figure it out.” And so, I did something presumably irresponsible, I took on the care of another little life, even when I need help to do a lot of things for myself. And now he’s one year old…